Shutdown, restrictions, cellphone jam mark Republic Day

The most busiest bridges, Amira Kadal, deserted on Republic Day, due to shutdown call by pro-freedom leaders and strict restrictions by the government.

By News Desk

Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir

People in Kashmir valley remained indoors on the 64th Republic day on Saturday owing to a strike called by separatists, gazzetted holiday and restrictions by government in some parts of the summer capital.

What has become a norm on such events, all mobile and internet services were suspended across valley during the celebration functions of Republic Day in Kashmir. However, the service providers once again failed to communicate information about jamming of the services in advance to the subscribers.

“I was aware that on Saturday mobile service would remain suspended as has been done in past on August 15 and January 26 functions in the valley,” said Nasir Ahmad a subscriber of Vodafone mobile services.

People had to face hardships as most of the subscribers are using mobile internet for work and to remain in touch with friends and with the world. “I had planned to do some important assignment on January 26 as it was a holiday. However, when I woke up in the morning, I was disappointed to find the 2G and 3G services down,” said Munazir Ahmad.

However, the mobile and internet services were restored around 12 noon by all the operators including the state owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, in wake of conclusion of tricolor unfurling functions at various district and block headquarters across the valley.

“Mobile services were suspended till noon as a precautionary security measure to ensure that the celebrations conclude peacefully,” said a senior police official. “It was never our intention to make the customers suffer but due to security issues, such steps are needed to be taken at times,” he added.

However, many subscribers of internet and cellphone services were irked by the administration’s directive to the cellphone companies asking them to shut down services.

“India says that Naxalism is the biggest threat but I fail to understand why only in our Kashmir anti people policies are adopted. Does suspending mobile service on 26th January and 15th August make India more democratic?” questioned Abrar Ismail, a resident of South Kashmir.

Last year too mobile phone services were suspended in valley on Jan 26 and Aug 15.

In view of the Republic Day, important routes were sealed and no one was allowed to move on the roads leading to Bakshi Stadium here where the major function of unfurling the tricolor was scheduled.

“I was moving towards to SMHS but the already deployed forces near Bakshi stadium did not allow me to pass through that route and I was forced to opt for any other alternative route to reach at the hospital”, said Mushtaq Ahmad of uptown Chanapora.

Later, after the parade and flag unfurling ceremonies were over, people were allowed to move around the venues. Meanwhile, Kashmir remained shut down on the call given by resistance leaders. Public transport remained off roads, with scant movement of private vehicles seen. Shops and business establishments were also shut in view of the shut down call, holiday, and restrictions by security forces.

Pertinently, Chairman Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Geelani had called for complete shutdown on 26th January and had said that India has no moral or constitutional right to observe republican day in Jammu and Kashmir. The call had been supported by various other separatist leaders and militant factions(KNS)

Photograph by Shahid Tantray

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